There’s no sign-in sheet. Which is bad, you know, because there’s already about forty-five girls here, all in roughly the same make and model: thin, tall, mostly blonde and usually Russian. A familiar hum of all-too-familiar conversations buzzes in between walls the color of radioactive tangerines. “It’s from Miami,” someone says. “What did you do last night?” asks another. “We’re not that young anymore!” quips a blonde on the couch, at least six years younger than myself. All the girls around her laugh in dumb chorus.
The casting asked that we all dress preppy and polished but everyone in here just looks the same way they always look — like girls who live their lives in black jeans and leather jackets, riding their boyfriends’ motorcycles on weekends. Easy, languorous, disengaged. The ones who aren’t chattering to each other about absolutely nothing keep their shoulders hunched, hovering just above the glow of an iPhone. I wonder just how much of my life I have spent in this way. Ten years, yes, but how many hours? How many precious minutes have I wasted standing against a wall talking to some dim welterweight about agencies, boys, juice cleanses? Bored conversations about boredom itself.
Stupidly I’ve allotted only fifteen minutes to this casting, fitting it between two meetings from what I’d like to refer to as “My New Real Life,” where I am treated like a person and not a thing. You would think fifteen minutes would be enough to hand someone a card, stand in a room full of strangers, have judgment felled upon you like an eager little axe. But no. That process can take countless hours, because, here, time means nothing. One morning you’re 19 and the next thing you know…
A woman comes in and delivers her obligatory lie. “We’re moving fast,” she says, and then she herds twelve models into another room, all at once, like an expedited counter at immigration. Their absence doesn’t make a difference; more girls have come in, with their long shiny hair and their designer handbags, asking the same question about the sign-in sheet, followed by the same “Who was last?”
These waits were easier when you were younger, because you didn’t care about time as much. The conversations, however droll, were still new. There was no place better to be, of course, because where was better than at a casting, trying to be a successful model? The aim seemed high enough and the pursuit unique. But these girls file in, newer and younger as they always are and always have been, interchangeable between one and the next, and you see that it is not unique, that you are not unique.
I’m still number 38 on an invisible list somewhere when I pull my coat on and walk out the room, catching a glimpse of the herd of twelve girls as I leave, who are now in a narrow closet, naked, trying on clothes. A sexless orgy of pale limbs and functional motion.
What a silly little racket I have come to know so well.